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Monday, January 13, 2014

Pastorgraphs: “Got Wisdom?”

E-Vangel Newsletter
January 13, 2014
[Pastorgraphs now online at]

Pastorgraphs: “Got Wisdom?”

If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to you.” (James  1:5)

King Solomon has been recognized as the wisest man who ever lived. Theologians refer to the three books of the Bible he wrote (Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes) as the Books of Wisdom. The famous story of how he dealt with the two mothers who claimed the same baby is a classic example of how Solomon used his gift of wisdom in practical, common sense ways.

So how did Solomon get so smart (or more correctly, so wise?) There is a difference between being smart and being wise! And more importantly, how do you get wisdom?

Solomon, the son of King David whom the Bible identified as “a man after God’s own heart” (meaning David had perhaps the closest relationship to God of any mortal), learned from his father’s faith. Solomon, too, had a close relationship with God.

God made an extraordinary offer to Solomon. God would grant Solomon whatever he wished. He could have chosen fame, fortune, power, pleasure or anything else. But Solomon asked for wisdom, the gift of discernment so that he would know how to lead and govern the Children of Israel. "So God said to him, 'Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked...'" (1 Kings 3:11–12) The request pleased God so much, he told Solomon he would get wisdom (discernment in administering justice), plus many of the things he did not ask for.

So what is wisdom? How do you get it?

Wisdom is often confused with knowledge. But they are not the same. So I offer,   

Seven Differences between Knowledge and Wisdom

1.          Wisdom is a gift. Knowledge is acquired. If you must work for something, it is not a gift, it is wages. God still invites us to seek, ask and find wisdom, as Solomon did. Much like salvation (which cannot be earned) wisdom is the free gift of God.

2.          Wisdom springs from the spirit. Knowledge springs from the mind. In my book on Integrity, I cited Dr. Deepak Chopra’s fundamental distinction between knowledge and wisdom: that science will never be able to attain wisdom, although science has and will continue to accumulate vast amounts of knowledge. The reason being: there is a spiritual dimension to wisdom that science excludes. If you cannot see it, measure it, or test it, science says it does not exist.

3.          Wisdom increases over time. Knowledge diminishes with age. Medical doctors, lawyers, and other professions must continually work to keep their knowledge current. While the body of knowledge grows, our mind’s capacity to remember diminishes with age. Wisdom increases so that the oldest in society are often seen as the wisest.

4.          Wisdom matures with experience. Knowledge matures with learning. A wise person will continue to make wise decisions throughout life, while knowledge is a life-long, ever-growing struggle to keep current. Wisdom helps keep emotions and passions in check.

5.          Wisdom focuses on understanding. Knowledge focuses on facts. Wisdom is making the practical and prudent application of knowledge. Someone put it this way: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable. Wisdom is knowing you should NOT put a tomato in a fruit salad!

6.          Wisdom helps you make good choices and decisions. Knowledge helps in performing a skill or task. Or expressed another way, knowledge is a tool; wisdom is understanding how to use the tool. Wisdom helps focus on our long term goals, the future and consequences for actions.

7.          Wisdom is common sense. Knowledge is education. Knowledge and education are good. But wisdom is better. One of my favorite TV shows is “Big Bang Theory”. Dr. Sheldon Cooper is a good example of the super-intellectual person (two Ph.D.’s) full of all kinds of knowledge I will never understand, but lacking practical common sense. Often Penny, the aspiring actress and waitress, demonstrates more “common sense” than Sheldon. But please note, I love watching both play their roles.

If you hear me saying knowledge is bad, I have not communicated well. I am at my core a pastor-teacher (Ephesians 4:11), having taught at the middle school, high school, college and graduate levels over 45 years. I am passionate about learning more of God’s wonderful creation, whether it is science, math, history, religion, or a dozen other subjects that are my favorites.

Again, knowledge and wisdom are both good; high and lofty goals we should all seek in life. But given the choice between wisdom and knowledge, wisdom is greater; it is the ability to take facts and knowledge in deciding upon the proper, prudent and wisest course of actions in the present for a blessed future.

Devotedly yours, Bill Jenkins

From the Quote Garden:
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”
~ Proverbs 3 ~

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205

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